Law & Order sees a major change to the lineup as Sam Waterston exits

Sam Waterston is leaving the flagship Law & Order series. Who will replace Jack McCoy, and whose decision was it for Waterston to leave?
LAW & ORDER -- "Freedom of Expression" Episode 23001 -- Pictured: Sam Waterston as D.A. Jack McCoy -- (Photo by: NBC)
LAW & ORDER -- "Freedom of Expression" Episode 23001 -- Pictured: Sam Waterston as D.A. Jack McCoy -- (Photo by: NBC) /

Jack McCoy is about to lead his final case. Sam Waterston is leaving Law & Order after more than 400 episodes!

TVLine broke the news, sharing that this was Waterston’s decision to leave. The actor doesn’t want to get too comfortable in the role, and he is excited to see what’s to come next. This will be good news for fans as it is on Waterston’s terms and not for “creative” reasons. There’s nothing worse than writers thinking they can shake things up by changing lead characters and things no longer working.

Waterston’s final episode is coming very soon. Fans will be able to watch it on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Who will take over in Law & Order?

The series already has Jack McCoy’s replacement. Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn is stepping into Waterston’s shoes.

The details of Goldwyn’s character haven’t been shared just yet. This is on par with the way Reid Scott’s new addition to the team wasn’t shared in detail before we met him in the Law & Order Season 23 premiere.

This is a series that has seen a lot of change over the years. However, Waterston was a huge draw for the revival of the show. Fans were worried that he would only be back for one season of the revival. The good thing about this series is that the ensemble cast makes it so one character isn’t the only draw. There’s no doubt that fans want to learn more about Scott’s character, for instance.

It’s not clear when the new district attorney will join the team. We could see him initially introduced in the Feb. 22 episode. This would make sense if Jack is retiring and his replacement has already been found. If the exit is a shock for the characters, we could see the new DA come in an episode or two later.

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Law & Order airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.